written by Dan Smullen
The first place people normally start when trying to get lean is cutting out all junk food. You are not alone. Normally when we start a diet to drop body fat we take an either all in or all out mentality. It’s not our fault really. Any diet plan out there or article about how to get lean expects you to follow the plan step by step. The problem with some of these plans are that, they are not catered for individual needs & requirements.
Number 1 reason why people fail on a diet
When I asked a personal trainer friend of mine, what the number one reason people fail when trying to get lean? His response was “People start out dieting too strict. We eat what we eat out of habit not because we want to eat bad. In order to be successful at getting lean, your diet plan needs to be the way you eat. Not a plan. But to do this you need to replace that habit one step at a time”. He adds “If we cut out all of the food we love when trying to get lean, we have removed our reward. For any habit, you must have a short term reward for each habit trigger. Take the habit trigger of smoking for example. When addicted, your body gets the psychological & physiological cue of having a cigarette. When you smoke, your body is rewarded by the nicotine! To brake any bad habit, you need to make a new habit and that new habit needs to have a similar reward! Instead of being super strict every step of the way with nothing to reward yourself with, have a cheat meal once a week as the reward for your new diet.
Cheat meals are actually not that bad
In order to get lean, it is imperative that you follow a high protein, high fat & low carb diet. Considering Pizzas are high in carbohydrate, those of us that love Italian food need to cut them out if we are ever going to achieve our goal of getting lean. This doesn’t always have to be the case. “Regardless of your exact diet plan you will be restricting calories. As a result, you will induce negative hormonal changes which can actually slow down your metabolism! These changes will increase your hunger drive and reduce your energy levels.” Obviously, Not ideal for building a lean muscular fatigue. “Instead having a cheat meal full of carbohydrates once a week can actually offset these hormonal changes by increasing your metabolism for days.”
Cheat meals are not created equal
Just because you know now eating a cheat meal once a week can actually aid your physique, this does not give you a licence to go out there and over indulge. Instead choose a high carbohydrate meal that you used to eat and love but had to give up. Take spaghetti for example. This is full of carbs and not ideal when you are trying to get lean. Have this to look forward at the end of a hard week in the gym and dieting. You could make your bolognaise with lots extra lean mincemeat. But let’s be honest, for me spaghetti bolognaise doesn’t have the same reward factor as a good tasty, thin bread Italian homemade pizza from one of your favourite Italian restaurants! Ditch the tub of Ben and Jerrys and have a good guilt free pizza for your cheat meal once a week. But if you’re like me and leave the cheat meals until Sunday, it can be a long way to wait. To help you carry you through until the big reward at the weekend, have mini rewards in the form of healthy snacks.
Dan Smullen is a Personal trainer working out of the Dartry health club. Apart from training people, lifting and blogging you will find him hanging out at his favourite Italian restaurant eating pizza on cheat days!